Fun in the Sun at Wembley Away - 1st XI, 12th September

The 1s final game of the season was against Wembley CC at Vale Farm, home to some of the more eccentric Middlesex league icons over the years. After a difficult April/May period where it appeared cricket would be having a year off, somehow we’ve managed to eke out an enjoyable little half season, under the sui generis captaincy of Freddie Barrass.

Results leading up to this game had been respectable without being excellent, hence a win here would give us 4th place in Middlesex County League Division 2. The pre match journey was fairly on brand, is there anything more Middlesex league than a nervy 30 minute crawl down the North Circular? Albeit this time avoiding the usual (football) traffic with the earlier start time of 11am.

It was refreshing to peek some sober(ish) looking gators on arrival, no doubt eager to make an impact before the bags go back into the loft for the winter. There were a couple of changes from the previous week, alas meaning the shifty presence of Foster was to return, needing three scalps to bring up 100 league wickets for Highgate. The other change saw week 8 centurion Sharland depart for family duty, to be replaced at the top of the order by Fraser. A quick mention for Jake as he sadly couldn’t make this one, but the calmness and authority he batted with this season was heartening, and aptly resulted in him recording some of the premier batting numbers in the league.

Fred called correctly and had no hesitation in batting first on a dryish (crumbly?) Wembley strip. Without going into huge detail, it was pretty brutal for the bowlers, who fell victim to an onslaught from a free scoring Highgate line up. An extravagant 340-8 was notched up in 45 overs, with the top six batters all making at least 30. After Fraser (31), Has (35) and Bowley (42) had run amok in the first 20 overs, a borderline ridiculous partnership between Sandun (91) and Shane (61) propelled the score to menacing levels. Having someone of Shane’s pedigree coming in at five, with runs already on the board and Sandy ticking at the other end, is an immense luxury to have at this level. They amassed a glittering 141 runs together from 102 balls, with the extra cover and long on boundaries taking a particular pounding. After I came in a slowed the rate down for a bit, and a few of us had given their wickets away, (only fair in the circumstances) we still ended up on 340, as irreparable damage had been done in the middle overs.

Despite the necessary health regulations, the general vibe around games this year has still been excellent. However, one aspect that has been severely missed is sharing the innings break with your teammates and the opposition. As such, I have no tea report for this game, but hopefully next season can see this tradition return. I’ve heard some of you mention you want BYO teas to stay, which I can only assume is down to some deep rooted loathing of fellowship and togetherness on your part. After all, cricket is notorious for the untidy tension between the fortunes of the team and those of the individual. Or perhaps you actually just prefer bringing your own tea, which maybe is fair enough. Anyway, onto the Wembley innings…

With an almost insurmountable target to chase, Wembley were always going to lose regular wickets. S Dias ensured he was a beneficiary of some loose shot making from the top order, claiming a neat little 4fer to sit alongside his earlier 91. From the other end Dan Tatt was beating the bat fairly regularly, and on another day may have induced a couple of nick offs. However, his time to shine was to be later that evening. Foster was slightly more expensive but crucially got what he came for, picking up the 3fer he needed to join Highgate’s illustrious 100 club. Putting any personal feelings about him aside, 100 league wickets is a wonderful achievement which not many others have managed for our 1st team. Let’s hope he keeps charging in for a few more years to come. At the other end, Billy grabbed a couple of poles to bring up a milestone of his own, finishing the season as the leading wicket getter for our division. Considering both his age and the quality of some of the other bowlers in the league, it’s hard not to rate that as an exciting achievement. Thaxo chipped in with one along the way, and ultimately we got the job done, bowling them out for 144 and winning by 196 runs.

News of wins for other Highgate teams further lifted the mood, sparking scenes back at the club reminiscent of some of the greater days of yore. As alluded to above, a comprehensive win for the 1s meant we finished in 4th, which is not bad by any means but to use a turgid sports phrase, we have a long way to go in our cycle as a team. Assuming the guidelines permit so, it would be nice to see some strong numbers at winter nets and during preseason. I would quickly like thank everyone who turned out this season, and once again made the gate a special place to spend your Saturdays.

Until next year,